Designer Styles

Danc has a great post up that proposes a new taxonomy of design work.  Must-read for those of you working with designs, he goes into yummy detail:

You can think of these categories as pieces of a spectrum that cover all major aspects of the final game design that the player experiences. Though they are all present, each style is emphasized to varying degrees in a particular title.

1. Copycat: make a game like another game that is interesting.
2. Experience: Make a distinct moment of game play that looks and feels interesting.
3. Narrative: Make a story that is interesting
4. World: Make a place or world that is interesting
5. Systems: Make systems and objects that are interesting.
6. Player Skills: Make verbs for the player that are interesting.

I’ve always talked about level designers and systems designers and creative directors, but this puts it in a more accurate light.   So level guys are really story guys, and some systems guys just prefer to take from other places.  I’d propose yet another one myself:  Technical: Make a technology that players haven’t seen before in a game.   But then again, what’d you expect?

Actually, I think I’m a strong Experience designer first, and then a Systems designer.  It’s funny, because I’ve always thought of myself as a systems designer, but I focus a lot on feeling first – that’s why I’ve enjoyed working on single player story games where there’s typically few systems.

Since it seems like all games need some of this, understanding what you have and also where you intend to focus your game is great.  It’s really helped me bring clarity to design roles and goals.  Plus, seems like a handy way to help identify needed design skills.  Experience specialist anyone?


3 thoughts on “Designer Styles

  1. Hey Dan…

    Don’t you think that “Technology” is incorporated somewhat in “Systems”? (Or even, to a lesser extent, “Player Skills” depending on what “technology” means in that game.)

  2. Hehe… I’ve heard that several times. I don’t – systems is the construction of rules sets and interactions. Technical is the exploitation of a feature set. The two have very different perspectives. Granted, there’s always a little verlap, and you can systemify your technical or technical-up or systems. But I don’t think there’s any more then between any of the others.

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